It’s Marathon Weekend!

The Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday will be #7 for me. It’s my second time running this particular course.

This training season has been interesting, to say the least. In March, I was asked by our head coach for Pink Nation, one of the marathon training teams with Sports Backers, to be a coach for our team. I was humbled. I was also in a very bad place in my life with work stress, mental health challenges, and just not having any work/life balance. So I took some time to reflect on this, but finally said yes. Coaching has been something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to give back to the Richmond running community in this way.

My long training runs have focused primarily on ensuring the safety and well-being of our participants. It’s been an amazing perspective. I’ve gotten to know many more runners this way and have been able to lend advice about what I’ve learned while training for my past races. I will be on the course for the Richmond Marathon on November 16th, cheering on all of our MTT members! I can’t wait to help all of our first time marathon runners cross that finish line!

This means I will not be running that race. So, I needed another fall marathon. By the time I was asked to be a coach, the big races had already closed their lotteries, and smaller races offered their own challenges. My best friend saved the day once again, suggesting that I join her in DC for MCM. In seeking a bib for this race (one of the few where you can transfer a bib), there was an opportunity to run for the Safe House Project team.

The Safe House Project helps to rescue and rehabilitate survivors of the sex trafficking industry. This issue has been prominent in the media lately because of the Epstein revelations, but it is far more pervasive than people realize. Our country has a serious issue with an addiction to victimized, sexualized children. I am a survivor of childhood sexual assault, so this charity is personal for me. Children deserve to have a childhood free from trauma. These children have insurmountable obstacles to face in the healing process. That’s why this charity is important. I’m honored to represent Team Safe House Project this weekend. You can still donate funds to help the cause here. Thank you to all of my friends who have already donated. I appreciate you!

Earlier this week, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to run. The inside of my right ankle started to hurt the day after my 20 mile run, likely from posterior tibialis tendonitis. So I rested, took Advil, and focused on stretching and gentle strengthening. I tried a couple of KT taping techniques, and I’ve found the one that seems to work the best. I was able to run 3 miles on Wednesday without pain, and so I’m giving it a go. There will be several MTT runners there this weekend, including lots of Pink Nation peeps!

It’s looking like a rainy race, but I’m grateful to spend some time with my best friend this weekend. And we will have fun, I’m sure! If you’re running, let me know!

Vegan Chili

As summer comes to an end, despite the multiple resurgences here in Virginia, we are finally beginning to feel the temperatures drop! It’s perfect chili weather.

This is a recipe I have perfected over the years, and one I was using long before I became vegan. I’ve brought it to many a pot luck, and I usually get more than one request for the recipe.

This is quick to throw together, since almost every ingredient comes from a can!

I usually make a pot of white basmati rice to serve with the chili. My kids, who are not vegan, will top their chili with cheese and sour cream. Sliced avocado or guacamole are equally good garnishes!

I won’t bore you with multiple paragraphs before I divulge the recipe, so here goes:

Vegan Chili


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I cheat and use the Dorot frozen garlic cubes)
  • 2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can tomato sauce (14.5 oz.)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz.)
  • 8 oz. jarred salsa (I used half of the jar pictured)
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place a medium Dutch oven or stew pot on medium heat.
  • Once pan is warm, add the olive oil.
  • Add the onions and garlic and a few dashes of salt, cooking until translucent and beginning to brown lightly.
  • Add the all other ingredients and stir.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low.
  • Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or so.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Serve over cooked rice, if desired.

Nutrition as calculated by labels per serving (8 servings per recipe, although I typically eat 2 servings):

  • 148 calories
  • 2g fat
  • 30g carbohydrates
  • 6g fiber
  • 8g protein

Adding  ½ cup cooked Basmati rice adds:

  • 95 calories
  • 20g carbohydrates
  • 3g protein

You can boost your protein by adding products like Beyond Meat or Gardein brand grounds if you like. If you try my recipe, let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Let’s talk running gear…

A few of my favorite running bottoms…

Let’s talk about running gear.

You’ve already heard about my affection for the Hoka Cliftons and the importance of working with a good, local running store to find your perfect shoes.

Now let’s talk about running shorts and leggings!

Once upon a time, I could run in cute running shorts and skirts. That was before my thighs became ginormous and became prone to chafing with any runs over a few miles. The last major race I ran in a skirt was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2016. I’m not sure my thighs will ever forgive me for that choice! I find it necessary to run in tights, capris, or bike shorts.

My favorite bike shorts are from Old Navy. I found them on clearance for $1.97. I’m not kidding! I do NOT like to spend a ton of money on running gear. My shoes, I will definitely splurge on. That’s a necessity. But anything else, I will hunt for bargains.

Most of my running bottoms come from Old Navy or stores like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, or Ross. I’m really lucky if I find Nike gear at a good price, and will generally snag these if I do. Other brands, though, I have to look at how they are made.

So what do I look for?

  • High waist. I need to keep that mom belly under wraps!
  • Flat seams.
  • As few seams as possible. Do NOT get seduced by cute leggings with multiple panels. The seams will betray you with chafing!
  • Moisture wicking fabrics.
  • Compression if possible.
  • That zipper pocket on the back of the waist is nice, but I never use it! But it usually indicates that the item was designed for running.

About those seams… Why flat seams? And what do I mean by that?

Flat seams are not raised and are enclosed by a serged stitch. These are not as prone to shifting and causing chafing issues. Seams not joined this way have a tendency to shift and flip with every move, and after a few miles of that, will cause chafing.

My favorite $1.97 bike shorts are finally beginning to lose some of their compression. After running in these for about 3 years, it might be time to search for their replacement! But the tan lines are amazing…

My favorite running tights and capris are all by Nike. I found my winter pair with fleece lining from the Nike outlet for $13 (purple above). I have a pair of Nike Pro compression capris from Burlington for less than $20 (black above). And I have another pair of capris which were a gift. I also enjoy every pair of Fabletics leggings I’ve picked up from Ross! (like the olive pair above, which were $13). I will likely never subscribe to their program, but I do buy these when I find them! I typically reserve these for shorter runs or yoga/gym workouts, though.

I won’t break out my winter tights unless the high temps during my run aren’t predicted to rise above freezing! And I generally won’t wear capris for running unless the highs are in the 40’s.

I save my running shorts for CrossFit workouts!

One note about skirts. I still will break these out for short runs. They are so cute! But I do avoid these if rain is in the forecast. There was this one training run my friends and I did from Carytown before dawn, and we were surprised by a thunderstorm with crazy lightening and torrential downpours. We were 4 miles into our 8 mile run. We decided to just keep going. I also happened to be wearing a skirt. That skirt absorbed what seemed like 10 lbs of water during that run! So no more skirts in the rain for me! And, by the way, my favorite running skirt is hot pink, and I bought it on clearance at Target for $3.33.

So, do you have to spend a ton of money on running bottoms? No. Just know what to look for!

Have you scored any amazing bargains on gear? I’d love to hear about them!

An Ode to my Beloved Hokas

Roses are red.

Violets are blue.

My Hokas are comfy.

How about YOUR shoes?

This picture shows 4 generations of the Hoka Clifton, starting with the Clifton 2. I own 4 pair of these, two pair of the 3’s, two of the 4’s, one of the 5’s, and I’m currently training in the 6. Most of these I purchased at my favorite local running store, Lucky Road Run Shop based in Richmond, VA.

I’ve found that Hokas have a sort of cult following… as a company, they haven’t been around that long. And the cushioning and somewhat rocker bottom sole makes their profile, well, unique. But if they work for you, you will become a part of the weird Hoka following. But that’s OK. I’m comfortable with weird!

Prior to the transition to Hoka, I ran in the Saucony Triumph, then the Adidas Energy Boost. Unfortunately, the more I run, the worse my feet become, and I’m starting to develop bunions. (My husband would tell you I run too much…)

Where did I go for answers to my new foot pain? Lucky Road. When you are a part of a local running community, finding your favorite local running store is key. I know what my feet do when I run, but what I don’t know is what the new shoe upgrades mean for my feet. That’s why I need a knowledgeable sales staff who can fit me with what I need.

I tried on the first generation Clifton, and, quite honestly, I felt like I was wearing clown shoes. I just wasn’t ready for that much cushion! I also didn’t like that the tongue was not padded. But the second generation was a bit more streamlined, and I was talked into trying them by the sales team at Lucky Road. The toe box was bigger to accommodate my *ahem* aging feet, and the amount of cushion was well suited for long distances.

I’ve now run 5 marathons, multiple half marathons, and tons of training miles in some version of this shoe. I can’t say they will work for everyone, but for me, they make me feel like I’m running on clouds! Best of all, since I work in healthcare, I wear my newly retired running shoes for work! Best shoes for being on your feet all day.

Speaking of working in healthcare, I am acquainted with several doctors who recommend Hokas to their patients. And my patients often ask me about mine.

So if you become a part of this little cult, you just might find yourself in line at the grocery store wearing your Hokas when a random stranger takes a look at your shoes… then you look at theirs… and you’re both like heyyy… do you love your shoes? True story.

The Birth of a Runner

First marathon. Richmond 2014. With Sarah.

It’s been said that one of the most natural inclinations of humans is to run.

Well, I don’t know about you, but for most of my life, I was one of those “if nothing is chasing me, it’s crazy to run” kind of folks. Seriously. I was a gymnast in my pre-teen and teen years. I only really ran during conditioning and to build speed to propel myself into the air. I was the kid who came up with every excuse in the book to get out of running the mile in gym class. That was me.

I’ve mentioned that in my path to wellness, I became bored with the gym. At this point, I started trying the group exercise classes. I was a big fan of the evening yoga class at the YMCA. Zumba, not so much. I’m really not coordinated enough for that!

So, why running? I was lured by that flyer for the Ashland Harvest Run in the lobby of the YMCA. I signed up for the 5k, because running 3.1 miles, although scary at the time, seemed doable. I trained myself, running/walking in self-guided intervals until I could run 1 mile, then 2 miles without stopping to walk. Until the race, I’d never run farther than that.

Running a set distance gave me a true goal to work toward. That’s a much different and much more satisfying goal than any number on a scale. You can break it down into pieces. It makes it achievable.

Race day, I was so nervous. Seriously… how could I ever think I could run that far?! However, once the race started, the nerves settled, and I promised not to beat myself up for walking some of the race. I was pleased with my results, finishing in about 35 minutes. What I loved was the RACE! Even though it was a small event, there was a fair amount of crowd support, and it was fun! And what a sense of accomplishment when I was done!

So peer pressure ensued, and a friend of mine convinced me to join the Sports Backers YMCA training team for one of Richmond’s most popular races, the Ukrop’s Monument 10k. I thought she was crazy believing that I could run that far. I mean, that was TWICE as far as the 5k! What was I thinking? She also convinced me to try the intermediate team, which I also thought was nuts.

So there I was, one extremely frigid day in January 2013, standing in a room at the YMCA with fellow runners, thinking that I didn’t deserve to run with the intermediate team. I met one of my best friends that day. Patty convinced me that I was in the right place after our 2 mile run.

With Patty after a run in Ashland

I developed some issues during 10k training that led me to see a sports medicine doctor to rule out a stress fracture in my right foot. Thankfully, it was only tendonitis, and I ended up being able to run/walk the 10k in March. That experience led me to Lucky Road Run Shop, which I found through their very convincing Facebook campaign. I messaged the store about my foot pain, and the owner, Jeff Van Horn, messaged back, and I ended up seeing him for shoes. Real running shoes. And then I felt like I was really a runner.

Fast forward to the fall, and Patty was trying to talk me into training for the Richmond Marathon. My almost injury scared me enough that I signed up for the Sports Backers 8k training team. I’m really glad I did, because not only was the great Taminator Harrison our coach, but I also met some of my best friends through that team.

My “sole sisters”: Tonya, Laura, Sarah, Patty, me, Denice at the Monument 10k, 2018

Slowly, we have grown our core group of sole sisters. They are the reason I keep running. That, and the medals… and the runner’s high… and the amazing Richmond running community… and the exhaustion and relief I feel after completing double digit runs week after week during marathon training season. You can work out a lot of problems when you run that far. There’s nothing quite like finishing a marathon, though. Not even close. I cry every time when I cross the finish line.

After the Richmond Marathon, 2018

Trust me. If this non-runner can become not just a runner, but a multiple marathon finisher, so can you.

My First Blog Post


The quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal.

— Merriam-Webster

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been chasing wellness most of my adult life in some way. It’s one of the reasons I chose to become a physical therapist. I wanted to also help others feel well, and it’s not always about medicine. I’ve also been some version of vegetarian my entire adult life, finally making the full jump to vegan over two years ago.

What exactly does it mean, though, to feel well? One could argue that there are many facets to wellness. It’s not just about your physical well-being, but also social, spiritual, emotional, and environmental factors. If one of these is off, you feel unsettled. And sometimes it’s challenging to figure out which one of these elements is the culprit.

We tend to focus on physical wellness, right? What’s my cholesterol? How many medications do I rely on to stay healthy? How can I better manage my chronic diseases? How can I achieve and maintain a healthy weight?  How can I keep up with my kids?

I know I asked myself these questions when I first began my own wellness journey. I was overweight after having 2 kids, dealing with persistent pain, and wearing the largest size clothes in my life. Not exactly great for my emotional wellness! Does this story sound familiar?

So I began with a goal. My goal was to lose weight. 30 lbs to be exact. I started making use of my YMCA membership and used the food and activity tracker myfitnesspal to reach my goal. It took me about a year to lose the weight, but I knew I wanted to keep working toward better fitness. I was already bored with gym equipment.

In the lobby of my local YMCA, I saw a flyer for a local 5k, the Ashland Harvest Run held every October. Running 3.1 miles seemed like a daunting, yet achievable task. The best way to reach a goal is to break it down into smaller ones. I worked toward running a mile without stopping, then 2 miles. And then it was race day. I ran/walked the entire thing, finishing in the middle of the pack! It was so exciting… the whole race experience, meeting my goal, and performing better than I expected. I officially caught the running bug that day. A friend of mine convinced me to join the Sports Backers/YMCA 10k training team, and this is where I met one of my best friends. She would convince me that I was capable of even more… the marathon. A few training teams later, we have a solid crew of running sisters… sole sisters… and my life is exponentially better because of them! So great for my social wellness! I have now completed 6 marathons. I’m currently training for number 7, the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m also now a coach with the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team with Pink Nation.  

What other crazy do I do, you ask? Well, my journey inspired my husband to find his tribe, too, and he started like me at our local YMCA. He eventually found his way to CrossFit, and he is now a level 1 trainer. I told him I would never try CrossFit unless he opened his own gym. In July of 2017, I had to eat my words, because he started a box with some business partners! He has even competed at the Masters level with some success, placing first in the Festivus games and third in the SuperFit games in 2018. We have since left this business endeavor, but Ralph is working out at a new box and focusing on being an athlete for a bit.

I enjoy the new challenges of CrossFit. Everyone is good at something in the box. Maybe you can’t do handstands, but you can lift weight! Maybe I can’t lift as much as you, but I can do pistol squats! The day I climbed that rope for the first time… well, I felt like Shalane Flannagan crossing the finish line of the NYC marathon! But the best part about CrossFit? It’s been great for our marriage.

I’m also spending some time fostering my creativity. I’ve recently launched a tie-dye shirt business, and I am dabbling in turning my favorite quotes into mixed media art. I hope to sell these at some point as well.

So, here I am. A 44 year old mother of two, married to a talented CrossFit coach, working as a physical therapist, 6 time marathoner, Vegan, artist, and sometimes CrossFit athlete. This sounds more impressive on paper than it really is. This is just me, chasing wellness.

Through this blog, I hope you find inspiration in your own journey. I plan to share with you recipes, running stories and tips, CrossFit stories, vegan tips, nutrition information, fitness clothing reviews, vegan food reviews, a bit of art, and fun features of living in Richmond! Thanks for reading!

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.